Opinion: Mischaracterizations (AUC)

POSTED: 09/23/13 1:19 PM

American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) is one of the most highly regarded medical schools in the Caribbean. AUC, which is part of the DeVry family of institutions, has operated for many years with a mission to offer qualified and committed students the opportunity to pursue their dream to become physicians. The recent Janet Lorin article in Bloomberg News, portions of which were summarized in Today SXM, contains many mischaracterizations of AUC and other schools in the Caribbean, including Ross University School of Medicine, which is also part of DeVry.

First, the article states that AUC is not accredited by the body that approves medical programs in the United States, implying that these schools are not accredited at all. In fact, there is no US accrediting body that reviews and accredits international medical schools like AUC. However, both schools are fully accredited by bodies that have approval from the US Department of Education, which has determined that the standards at AUC are comparable with those used to evaluate the quality of US medical schools.

Second, some of the data included in the Bloomberg article and then repeated in Today SXM is inaccurate. It is not true that 66% of students at AUC complete their studies – these percentages are for students who finish the program within 48 months. In fact, over the last several years, the percentage of students who complete the program and earn their medical degree is between 78 and 80%, and we are working hard to increase those figures. Also, our graduates’ success obtaining a residency following completion of their degree is misrepresented. Between 80 and 90% of our graduates secure residency positions in US and Canadian hospitals following graduation, many of them in very competitive specialty programs.

A third very important data point did not appear in Bloomberg or Today SXM. Every medical student aspiring to practice medicine in the United States must take and pass Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Exam. It is the most important exam taken by medical students, and a major factor in success securing a residency position. In 2012, AUC students achieved a 96% first-time pass rate in 2012. This is the same rate posted by US schools.

Lastly, we object to terms such as “medical school rejects” (from the headline of the Bloomberg article) and “the debris of the US medical student population” (from the Today SXM summary). In 2012, US medical schools received more than 630,000 applications from 45,266 individual applicants. That comes to an average of about 14 applications submitted per applicant. Therefore it is very likely that many of the students currently enrolled in US medical schools were denied admission to one or more schools of their choosing.

We do not have any “rejects” at AUC. What we do have is a fantastic group of people who have committed themselves to becoming physicians. AUC provides them with the opportunity to pursue that goal. Readers of Today SXM in St. Maarten should know that AUC’s close partnership with its local community is integral to that goal. Despite the misrepresentations contained in Lorin’s article – some of which were not only misleading and inaccurate, but also mean-spirited – our students continue to commit themselves to their studies. We fully support them in that.


Heidi Chumley, MD

Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer

American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine

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